Lower School Back to School Night 2019 - Lisa Sun

Welcome! We are delighted to have you here so you can meet your child’s teachers and hear about the rich year ahead.

Many thanks to the teachers who have worked tirelessly to create a warm, inviting, and inspiring classroom learning environments. They’ve launched us into a very strong start to the year. I am grateful for the leadership of my program team that includes Erin, Yves, Allison, and Brian, each of whom play an important role in the academic work of students.  

TPS recently completed a strategic vision.  One of the main goals of our vision is to make TPS a leader in progressive education. As an educator and as a parent, I firmly believe in our school’s mission and our progressive approach.

My focus for this year is to ground the TPS community around a shared understanding of progressive education. We are continuing these conversations as teachers and administrators, and we’ll continue to communicate with you all about the value and importance of our distinct progressive approach to teaching your children. 

Our pedagogy is grounded in the tenets of progressive education. Tonight, Erin will speak more about these progressive tenets, and I hope you’ll hear more details from the teachers about the ways in which our program reflects our progressive approach that:

  • Attends to the whole child

  • Is inquiry-based

  • Allows our children to learn by doing

  • Encourages students to be active participants of their learning instead of passive recipients

  • Emphasizes deep understanding over breadth of content

  • Is collaborative--our students work and learn from each other

  • Teaches our children to participate in a democratic process and engage in active citizenship

Tonight, I want to spend a few minutes focused on participating in democratic process and active citizenship.  

As a parent and school leader, I deeply believe in progressive education. I am inspired by the impact that progressive education has had on my own children. They’ve attended progressive schools their entire lives. My children often inspire me with their astute observations, insights and questions. They ask really hard questions and they challenge me, my thinking and my comfort. I’m convinced that it’s because of the schools that they have attended.

My 9-year-old is my second child and she has been in progressive schools since she was 4 years old. She embodies a bold and strong stance. She’s goofy, loves to laugh, and loves new adventures. And she is incredibly brave.

Last weekend, she was at Six Flags and rode Kingda Ka, the world’s tallest rollercoaster and second fastest at a speed of 128 mph. And she loved it. 

I firmly believe that she is brave because she learned in environments that encouraged her to take safe risks, explore, ask questions, seek her own answers and be her true, authentic self.

Like many of you, my hope is for my daughter is to lead a full and meaningful life.  My wish is that she’ll continue to be a someone who isn’t afraid to try new things, to experience life and adventure. But the greatest hope I have is for her is to lead a life that makes a difference. I want her to feel a sense of responsibilIty for something outside of just herself. 

Our students have been engaging in conversations about the science of climate change and have decided to participate in tomorrow’s Global Climate Strike. They want to make a difference and practice what it means to be engaged in a democratic process and be active citizens who speak up and advocate for important causes.

As I shared during my talk last week, the purpose of education is not just to produce students who are just vessels for facts and information. The purpose of education is to empower our children to make a difference, to be kind, create change, and work for a more fair and just world.  

It’s truly an honor to work at a school that is committed to their mission of “TPS educates children for a future that is impossible to know but not impossible to shape.”